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From words to clichés

In the mid-1970s, during the tense days of Jayaprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution, the announcements over All India Radio were always reassuring: ‘the situation is tense but under control’. Sanjay Jha writes.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2011 21:26 IST
Sanjay Jha

In the mid-1970s, during the tense days of Jayaprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution, the announcements over All India Radio were always reassuring: ‘the situation is tense but under control’. As someone once said, at the beginning was the Word, at the end just the Cliché. Adding to them is the never-ending supply of esoteric terms that make a grand appearance, like ‘thought-showers’. The first time someone told me to take a ‘rain check’, I looked outside my window. It was an incandescent day.

In TV studios, the most famous wife is not Aishwarya or Angelina but the better half of Julius Caesar. As pundits shake their head and say, “He must be above suspicion like Caesar’s wife”.

These days, of course, we are in a ‘deficit’ trap, with even my driver complaining of a salary-deficit. ‘Crony capitalism’ is the new name for enriching family and friends in corporate India. Another corny term in circulation is ‘jugaad’. Mostly used by frequent fliers in business class to display their understanding of Bharat, it has great sound byte value especially at frozen destinations like Davos. Frankly, why do people not ‘think out of the box’?

‘Due diligence’ is overdue, and ‘corporate governance’ lend the Harvard dimension to boardroom meetings. It is our ‘systemic malaise’ that fails us despite tech giants like Infosys and Wipro. Consumer marketing guys go for the over-kill when suggesting ‘customer intimacy’ on a public platform. Of course, you must grab that ‘low-hanging fruit’ pronto, before competition does. If you are ill-equipped for that arduous task, it’s a congenital deficiency, you just ‘don’t have it in your DNA’. ‘It’s not rocket science’, says the boss, whenever he wants you to feel foolish.

Despite the 2G scam, ‘bandwidth’ commands a huge spectrum among managers. Who cares for over-used resources these days? Whenever someone switches seamlessly to ‘having said that’, you know some bad news is in the offing. ‘Notwithstanding’ is passé.

The IT crowd has introduced us to ‘deliverables’, while making their ‘back of the envelope’ calculation. They also don’t want your contact details anymore, only your ‘coordinates’.

Thanks to the flood of corruption cases, ‘transparency’ towers above all with Amazonian arrogance. ‘Best practices’ are usually best ignored. Everyone wants to leave behind a ‘footprint’.It’s not just the razor blade, but even the PPTs that have to be ‘cutting edge’.

And after those ‘brainstorming sessions’, a ‘paradigm shift’ is the next step to get traction. Isn’t it far less exquisite and boring to say, let’s just think differently to create results? Again, all companies, whether or not in the energy business, need a ‘leadership pipeline’.

My mind spins when Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra spend ‘quality time together’ in his van. It has replaced the usual favourite ‘just good friends’ by far.

And when my daughters say, “Dad, stop being a loser”, they are only affirming what my wife has been stating all along. Speak up, my friend, even if no one is listening.

Sanjay Jha is executive director, Dale Carnegie Training India

The views expressed by the author are personal